The following titles are suggested for AP History Summer Reading. For more information about required reading and assignments, please click here.

Note: During the summer the Library will keep a selection of these books on the display counter on the second floor.
Click on the links below to find these books in our catalog.

Allen, Frederick Lewis
The big change : America transforms itself, 1900-1950
An overview of many aspects of American culture during the first half of the 20th century.

Only yesterday : an informal history of the nineteen-twenties
An account of the whole decade, covering everything from the economy to arts and morals.

Ambrose, Stephen
Undaunted courage
The story of Lewis and Clark, Jefferson, and the opening of the American West..
Nothing like it in the world : the men who built the transcontinental railroad, 1863-1869
The epic tale of the investors, engineers, politicians, and laborers who made train travel across the country a reality.

Anderson, Sherwood
Winesburg, Ohio
FICTION A collection of 23 vignettes of American life, linked by the common character of a young newspaper reporter disenchanted with small town life.

Autobiography of Malcolm X
A classic biography chronicling the civil rights movement through the life of the Black Muslim leader. Based on tape-recorded conversations with author Alex Haley, the book was completed shortly before Malcolm X’s murder in 1965.

Ball, Edward
Slaves in the family
The story of the author’s exploration of his family’s slave-owning past and his search for the descendants of the people his ancestors kept as slaves.

Bellamy, Edward
Looking backward
FICTION A fascinating look at the future of society as viewed by a culture of the past. Bellamy, a New Englander, wrote his book in 1888 and he envisions what life would be like if you woke up in Boston in the year 2000.

Berg, A. Scott
Lindbergh
Charles Lindbergh’s wife, the writer Anne Morrow Lindbergh, gave this biography’s author unrestricted access to her husband’s and her own personal papers. The result is a rich life history that reveals aspects of the famous pilot that other biographers could not.

Bishop, Jim
The day Lincoln was shot
A complete hour by hour record of the events that took place in Ford’s Theatre on the fateful day in April 1865 when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.

Boorstin, Daniel
The Americans : the colonial experience
The historian and former Librarian of Congress offers an in-depth study of the colonies and shows how they were not merely an offshoot of the old country, but an entirely new and distinct civilization.

Breslin, Jimmy
How the good guys finally won : notes from an impeachment summer
An account of the Nixon impeachment hearings after the Watergate scandal in the early 1970s.

Brown, Dee
Bury my heart at Wounded Knee
A classic account from the Native Americans’ viewpoint of the white settlers’ westward expansion.
Creek Mary’s blood
FICTION Focusing on four generations of one native American family, Brown follows Creek Mary and her tribe through the 19th century, including the forced migrations that sent thousands of people to be resettled in the West..

Carroll, James
An American requiem
The Boston Globe columnist and Catholic priest writes of the conflicts that the Vietnam War evinced for him and his father.

Cather, Willa
O pioneers
FICTION A moving story of a Swedish immigrant family’s battle for survival on the Nebraska prairie during the 1880s.

Catton, Bruce
The coming fury
The first in a trilogy (followed by Terrible Swift Sword and Never Call Retreat) this history of the beginnings of the Civil War was written by one of the foremost authorities on that period of history.
Terrible swift sword
The second in the series, this book begins after the Battle of Bull Run in 1861 and continues up to 1862, when Gen. McLellan was relieved as commander of the Army of the Potomac.
A stillness at Appomattox
This third volume of another trilogy (Mr. Lincoln’s Army and Glory Road) covers the Army of the Potomac in the Civil War during the period from early 1864 to April 1865.
This hallowed ground
This overview history of the Civil War deals with the story from the Union side.

Coll, Steve
Ghost wars : the secret history of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet invasion to September 10, 2001
Coll is a Washington Post editor who covered Afghanistan from 1989 to 1992. He won the Pulitzer in 2004 for this history of the CIA’s involvement in that country after the Soviet occupation. As a recent history of American intelligence and anti-terrorism efforts, the book provides detailed insight into how the U.S. and other powers jockeyed for position and how their actions helped create the current unstable situation.

Collier, Peter
The Rockefellers : an American dynasty
A history of four generations of the members of one of America’s most famous families, their lives, their great works, and their fortunes.

Colt, George Howe
The big house : a century in the life of an American summer home
Colt, the husband of writer Anne Fadiman, comes from a long line of Boston Brahmins. The Big House is a poignant reminiscence of the life of a house, its family, its location, and its place in American history. The house is in the Pocasset section of Bourne, on Cape Cod, and has spent the last hundred years hosting a wide range of family members summer after summer. The changes that take place since 1903, when the house was built, are very personal for the author and his family, but also societal, since the way of life the house originally represented is now gone.

Commager, Henry Steele
The American mind
A broad survey of American ideas, economics, art, philosophy, religion, and society from the 1880’s until 1950, when it was written.

Cooke, Alistair
Alistair Cooke’s America
The author was a correspondent for the London Times, covering America both for newspapers and BBC radio. This richly illustrated book is filled with his unique and fresh insight into American culture and history.

Coontz, Stephanie
The way we never were : American families and the nostalgia trap
A historian takes a myth-busting look at the past two hundred years of American family life, examining statistics to show that the “good old days” were not always as we remember them.

Daniels, Roger
Guarding the golden door : American immigration policy and immigrants since 1882 Daniels provides a readable overview of the important but often inconsistent policies the U.S. has used to welcome or restrict immigrants, often with unintended consequences.

Didion, Joan
Play it as it lays
FICTION Didion’s novel follows Maria Wyeth, an aspiring actress in Hollywood in the 1960s. A drifter who finds herself disconnected from family and friends, she embodies what Didion saw as the emptiness and ennui of Los Angeles in that era.

Donald, David
Lincoln reconsidered : essays on the Civil War era
A collection of essays that challenge some of the conventional wisdom of the causes and effects of the Civil War.

Drury, Allen
Advise and consent : a novel of Washinton politics
FICTION This novel was a bestseller in its day and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1960. It is a fictional account of the sensational Alger Hiss / Whittaker Chambers Communist spying case.

Ellis, Joseph J.
American sphinx : the character of Thomas Jefferson
This winner of the National Book Award examines the illustrious and often contradictory nature of one of our most revered presidents.

Fast, Howard
Citizen Tom PaineFICTION
A fictional account of Tom Paine, the patriot who is best known for his revolutionary pamphlet “Common Sense”.

Fischer, David Hackett
Washington’s crossing
Fischer, a historian at Brandeis University, won the Pulitzer for this account of General Washington’s 1776 crossing of the Delaware River and subsequent victory over British troops and Hessian mercenaries in New Jersey.

Friedman, Thomas L.
Longitudes and attitudes : exploring the world after September 11
A collection of essays from the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist on how people around the world reacted to the tragedy of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Galbraith, John Kenneth
The affluent society
First published in 1958, this treatise by a well-known economist discusses the upheavals that have changed the global economy, as well as the production and distribution of wealth.

Garland, Joseph E.
Boston’s North Shore : being an account of life among the noteworthy, fashionable, wealthy, eccentric, and ordinary, 1823-1890
Boston’s Gold Coast : the North Shore, 1890-1929
These two books by a local historian examine the social history of the communities on the North Shore where the wealthy and ordinary came to relax and escape during the 19th century and the gilded age..

Goldman, Eric
The tragedy of Lyndon Johnson
An overview of Lyndon Johnson and his presidency.

Goodwin, Doris Kearns
Lyndon Johnson and the American dream
Well-known and popular historian Goodwin writes a compelling account of the Johnson years showing his human side as well as the politics and policy of his administration.
No ordinary time
A profile of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt around 1940 and their influence on our culture during the creation of modern America.

Greene, Bob
Duty : a father, his son, and the man who won the war
Greene, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, writes a very personal memoir of his father, one of “the greatest generation,” and his hero, Paul Tibbets, who piloted the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima

Gregory, Dick
Nigger
One of several wryly satirical books on race by the noted black American entertainer, author, and civil rights activist.

Halberstam, David
The fifties
An in-depth study of the decade of great expansion after the Second World War.

Hemingway, Ernest
The sun also rises
FICTION Set in the 1920’s, this novel follows a group of aimless “Lost Generation” American expatriates in France and Spain after the first world war.

Herring, George C.
America’s longest war : the United States and Vietnam
An in-depth look at the causes and events of the Vietnam War from 1950 to 1975.

Hersey, John
Hiroshima
The classic description, from the Japanese point of view, of what happened in Hiroshima when we dropped the first atomic bomb.

Hofstadter, Richard
The age of reform from Bryan to F.D.R.
An analysis of reform movements from 1890 to 1940, focusing on the Populists, the Progressives, and the New Deal.

Hoover, J. Edgar
Masters of deceit : the story of communism in America and how to fight it
Hoover was director of the FBI for almost fifty years, and was a stauch opponent of communism. This book, published in 1958, was one of many of his writings to outline his views on communism at he saw it affecting American society and the world.

Howells, William Dean
The rise of Silas Lapham
FICTION Published in 1885, this novel follows an uneducated but complex man and his family as they attempt to get into Boston society.

James, Henry
The American
FICTION James contrasts the American and European experience by following a self-made American man who goes to Europe to enjoy his fortune and encounters a very different society.
Washington Square
FICTION Catherine Sloper, a shy daughter of a wealthy doctor, is courted for her money but learns that her father will disinherit her if she marries the gentleman. After her father’s death and her inheritance of his wealth, she still is forced to make some hard choices about her life.

Kennedy, John F.
Profiles in courage
Kennedy wrote this in 1956, before he became President. He profiles a series of famous Americans who took courageous, principled stands in moments of crisis. John Quincy Adams, Sam Houston, and Daniel Webster, are among those included.

Kurlansky, Mark
1968 : the year that rocked the world
1968 was the year of the Kennedy and King assassinations, the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, anti-war protests, political riots, and increased activity in the movements for civil rights for women and minorities. Kurlansky delves into the events of a year that saw turmoil and social upheaval not just in the U.S., but around the world.

Larson, Edward J.
Summer for the gods : the Scopes trial and America’s continuing debate over science and religion
A fascinating account of the history, politics, and science of the 1925 Scopes trial, in which Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan battled over the teaching of evolution or creationism in schools.

Lewis, Sinclair
Main Street
FICTION A commentary on small town American life, following a young woman who marries and moves to an intolerant and unimaginative town in Minnesota.

Loewen, James
Lies my teacher told me : everything your American history textbook got wrong
A history professor looks at several of the most popular American history textbooks used in schools by digging deeper into topics such as slavery, Christopher Columbus, and Helen Keller. He examines the information books often omit, leaving them bland and unappealing to students. He argues for a more rigorous and inclusive approach to history, showing students that history is ever-evolving, usually controversial, and actually quite exciting.

Lukas, J. Anthony
Common ground
An award-winning account of the effects of the school busing decision on several Boston families.

Maier, Pauline
American scripture : making the Declaration of Independence
A professor of American history at M.I.T., Maier traces the development of the Declaration of Independence and how it has become a moral as well as a political force in American society.

Martin, William
Back Bay
FICTION The fictional Pratt family is the center of this sweeping novel of intrigue that takes place in the 19th century and the present day in Boston’s elegant Back Bay neighborhood.

Masters, Edgar Lee
Spoon River anthology
A collection of 214 poems about small town life in America written by a friend and associate of Carl Sandburg and Theodore Dreiser. First published in 1915.

McCullough, David
John Adams
A Pulitzer Prize winner and runaway bestseller. Noted historian David McCullough examines the life of a Massachusetts patriot and the second President of the United States, a man Thomas Jefferson called “the colossus of independence.”

Menand, Louis
The Metaphysical Club : a story of ideas in America
A Pulitzer Prize-winning quadruple biography, which looks at how the ideas of four major American intellectuals (Oliver Wendell Holmes, Charles Peirce, John Dewey, and William James) influenced American thought.

Michener, James
Centennial
FICTION A sweeping novel that profiles a fictional Colorado town from the prehistoric days of its geological formation, through the arrival of the first native peoples, settlers, and traders, and continuing all the way up to the 1970s.

Miller, Merle
Plain speaking : an oral biography of Harry S. Truman
This book is based on taped interviews with Truman and many who knew him both before he went to Washington as a senator from Missouri, and after he became one of our most famous presidents.

Morison, Samuel Eliot
Builders of the Bay Colony
A Pulitzer Prize winning historian profiles some of the most famous and influential men and women of the early Massachusetts Bay Colony, among them John Winthrop, Anne Bradstreet, and Captain John Smith.
The intellectual life of colonial New England
A history of the intellectual pursuits, education, libraries, and literature of the Puritan colonies.

Norris, Frank
The octopus : a story of California
FICTION Norris depicts the power struggle between the wheat growers in California and the expansionists of the Southern Pacific Railroad.

O’Brien, Tim
The things they carried
FICTION O’Brien’s collection of stories gives heart-breaking insight into the horrors of war, in this case Vietnam.

O’Connor, Thomas H.
The Boston Irish : a political history
A noted local historian looks at the important role the Irish community has played in the history of Boston, particularly its colorful and often contentious politics.

Parkman, Francis
Any title by this author –
Wakefield owns:
Montcalm and Wolfe
An account of the young British General James Wolfe who defeated the French Marquis de Montcalm on the Fields of Abraham in Quebec during the French and Indian War.

Pressly, Thomas
Americans interpret their Civil War
An overview of different views on the causes and influences of the Civil War.

Puleo, Stephen
Dark tide : the great Boston molasses flood of 1919
At the end of World War I, a huge molasses storage tank in Boston’s North End ruptured and sent a wall of molasses through the streets, destroying buildings and killing 20 people. This lively and readable history looks not only at the disaster itself, but also at the political and legal battle which followed in an effort to assign blame and compensate the victims.

Rand, Ayn
Anthem
FICTION Rand was born in Russia, and her personal experiences there influenced her later political beliefs. She was a strong proponent of minimal government and laissez-faire capitalism. Anthem, first published in 1946, is a story about a dissenter in a futuristic, collectivized state. It distills much of Rand’s philosophy into a short but powerful novel.
We the living
FICTION Rand’s first novel (1936) describes the plight of the individual in the Soviet Union by focusing on a woman torn between the love of a Communist and an aristocrat in post-revolutionary Russia.

Rather, Dan
The palace guard
The noted TV journalist wrote this book in 1974 about the relationship between the President (in this case Richard Nixon) and his cabinet and the press.

Riis, Jacob
How the other half lives
Jacob Riis was a police reporter and social reformer who documented slum conditions in the 1890s in New York’s lower East Side. This book includes text as well as 100 of his compelling documentary photographs.

Roberts, Kenneth
Arundel
FICTION A historical novel of the American Revolution, set in the garrison of Arundel in southern Maine. The hero and his friend Benedict Arnold go on a dangerous expedition to Quebec.
Northwest Passage
FICTION Considered one of Roberts’ best works, this novel describes an expedition in 1759 to destroy the Indian town of St. Francis and find an overland route to the Northwest.
Oliver Wiswell
FICTION A historical novel of the Revolution seen through the eyes of the title character, a young American man who remains loyal to the English.

Rolvaag, O.E.
Giants in the earth : a saga of the prairie
FICTION This novel follows the struggles of a Norwegian immigrant family who settled in the Dakota territories in the 1870s.

Rossiter, Clinton
The American presidency
Published in 1956, this book chronicles the men who served as President as well as the institution of the Presidency itself.

Roth, Philip
The plot against America
FICTION One of the most acclaimed novels of 2004, Roth invents an alternative history of the World War II era, as if Charles Lindbergh had won the presidency in 1940 instead of Roosevelt. Seen through the eyes of a 7-year old Jewish-American boy, the book explores unsettling questions about patriotism and war. Roth’s endnotes clearly explain the factual basis for his characters, so the reader can better see where the fiction begins.

Russell, Francis
The shadow of Blooming Grove
The title of this monumental biography of Warren Harding refers to his birthplace and the place where it was first rumored that he was part black. The author refers to Harding as “the most neglected of Presidents” and seeks to remedy the oversight with this in-depth look at his life and administration.

Schlesinger, Arthur, Jr.
The age of Jackson
The Pulitzer prizewinning author gives us much more than a biography of Andrew Jackson, showing how his presidency affected and changed the course of American politics.
The coming of the New Deal
The second volume of the “Age of Roosevelt” series covers F.D.R.’s attempts to battle economic collapse with his New Deal reforms.

Schultz, Nancy Lusignan
Fire & roses : the burning of the Charlestown Convent, 1834
Schultz, a professor at Salem State College, illuminates a tragic and little-known event in Boston religious history, the burning of a Catholic convent in Charlestown by a mob of Protestant men..

Shaara, Jeff
Gods and generals : a novel of the Civil War
FICTION Shaara’s father wrote the well-known novel, The Killer Angels, an award winner and bestseller. This novel focuses on the events leading up to the time period covered in the other book, following “Stonewall” Jackson as he leads his forces to several victories against the Union armies.

Sheehan, Neil
A bright shining lie : John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam
A journalist for UPI and the New York Times traces the history and controversy of the Vietnam War through the eyes of Lieutenant Colonel John Paul Vann, who went to Vietnam in 1962, and was ultimately killed there ten years later.

Smith, Gene
Lee and Grant
A dual biography of Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant, two of the most famous adversaries of the Civil War.

Stampp, Kenneth
The peculiar institution : slavery in the ante-bellum South
A historical appraisal of the institution of slavery in the United States, based on extensive research in primary sources.

Starkey, Marion
The devil in Massachusetts
A readable account of the witchcraft delusion and trials of Salem in 1692.

Steffens, Lincoln
Shame of the cities
A collection of essays from the turn of the century that exposed crime and corruption in the municipal governments of several American cities such as Chicago, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis.

Stowe, Harriet Beecher
Uncle Tom’s cabin
FICTION Set in Kentucky and Louisiana, this famous novel was first published in 1852 ; it was one of the most widely read books in its day. It tells the story of Tom, an old black slave, who suffers at the hand of Simon Legree, a cruel Yankee plantation owner.

Tocqueville, Alexis de
Democracy in America
A classic philosophical discussion of American democracy by a French writer who visited the United States during 1831 and 1832.

Twain, Mark
Life on the Mississippi
Twain fulfilled his boyhood dream of being a cub pilot on a Mississippi riverboat, and this memoir chronicles his experiences as well as providing background history on the great age of steamboat travel.

Updike, John
In the beauty of the lilies
FICTION The title refers to a line in “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”, and Updike’s novel follows four generations of one American family, from 1910 to 1990, exploring the importance of religion on family life in the “American Century”.

Vidal, Gore
Burr
FICTION Aaron Burr was Vice-President of the U.S. from 1801-1805, although he is better remembered for having killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. This fictionalized biography is told by Burr and by a fictional young journalist, who it is suggested is Burr’s illegitimate son.
1876
FICTION A continuation of the above novel, where the young journalist, now 63, returns to the U.S. after many years abroad to visit New York, Washington, and Philadelphia at the time of the U.S. Centennial.

Wakefield : 350 years by the lake
A fascinating account of the history of Wakefield, told by its residents.

Warren, Robert Penn
All the king’s men
FICTION Warren, the first U.S. poet laureate, won the Pulitzer Prize for this novel about Willie Stark, a southern politician modelled on Huey Long, the popular Democrat and advocate for the poor, who served as governor of Louisiana from 1928 to 1932.

Washington, Booker T.
Up from slavery
The 1901 autobiography of the former slave who battled racism and poverty to educate himself and eventually establish the Tuskegee Institute, an Alabama trade school for blacks.

White, Theodore Harold
Breach of faith
A history of the Watergate scandal of the 1970s and the impeachment hearings and fall of the Nixon administration.

Wood, Gordon S.
The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin
Wood argues that our idea of Ben Franklin as the embodiment of the American revolutionary ideal actually came late to a man who had a love of Europe and a longtime loyalty to the British Crown. Franklin’s death was largely ignored here in the U.S., and Wood explores how Franklin nonetheless became one of America’s most beloved historical figures.

Woodward, Bob and Carl Bernstein
The final days
The two journalists who broke the Watergate story for their Washington papers interviewed more than 400 people for this detailed story of the fall of the Nixon presidency.

Woodward, Bob
The agenda : inside the Clinton White House
A day-by-day account of the first two years of Bill Clinton’s presidency.
The commanders
A similar behind-the-scenes account of the first two years George H.W. Bush’s presidency, in the period leading up to the 1990 Gulf War.

Woodward, C. Vann
The strange career of Jim Crow
First published in 1955, this was long considered the definitive study of race relations in the U.S., covering the period from 1877 to the mid 20th century.

Wooten, James
Dasher : the roots and rising of Jimmy Carter
A biography of the man from Georgia who became our 39th President.